List o’ the Week: My Favorite Pre-Code Actresses

Can’t get enough of Norma Shearer and The Divorcee.

Today’s List o’ the Week is an easy one – my Top 20 favorite pre-Code actresses.

Because I couldn’t possibly rank them in order of how much I love them (Stanwyck vs. Crawford vs. Blondell vs. Shearer!?!? Come ON!), I put them in alphabetical order. And to spice things up a bit, I listed my favorite pre-Code film in which each appeared (which was no cakewalk, let me tell you!)

Here goes:

1.  Constance Bennett: The Easiest Way (1931)

2.  Joan Blondell: Blondie Johnson (1933)

3.  Nancy Carroll: Hot Saturday (1932)

4.  Ruth Chatterton: Lilly Turner (1933)

5.  Mae Clarke: Waterloo Bridge (1931)

6.  Joan Crawford: Possessed (1931)

7.  Ann Dvorak: Three on a Match (1932)

8.  Kay Francis: Mandalay (1934)

9.  Ann Harding: Double Harness (1933)

10. Jean Harlow: Bombshell (1933)

11. Miriam Hopkins: Design for Living (1933)

12. Leila Hyams: Men Call It Love (1931)

13. Carole Lombard: Twentieth Century (1934)

14. Anita Page: Under Eigheen (1931)

15. Dorothy Mackaill: The Reckless Hour (1931)

16. Ginger Rogers: Upperworld (1934)

17. Norma Shearer: The Divorcee (1931)

18. Barbara Stanwyck: Night Nurse (1931)

19. Helen Twelvetrees: Millie (1931)

20. Loretta Young: Born to Be Bad (1934)

Who are your favorite pre-Code actresses and films?

~ by shadowsandsatin on February 18, 2018.

22 Responses to “List o’ the Week: My Favorite Pre-Code Actresses”

  1. Great idea for a list! I have to see more Constance Bennett films!

  2. How on earth did you decide between Blondell and Stanwyck in Night Nurse?

  3. Hi! I do not know why You ignored Fay Wray, is it because She was born in Canada, but in reality She was American. Complete non sense to ignore Fay Wray, on movies reviews website like Yours on the web, They are all ignoring Her, but She was an excellent Actress not only a screamer. It is so upsetting to say the least. Thanks and nice day.

    • I’m so sorry to upset you, Serge. That was not my intention. You may be sure that I didn’t exclude Fay Wray from my list because she was born in Canada — after all, one of my favorite actresses, Norma Shearer, is Canadian. I excluded Fay Wray because she is not one of my favorite pre-Code actresses, which is what this list represents. Thanks so much for reading and commenting — I hope you have a nice day, too!

  4. Great list! I love Constance Bennett, though her films are generally sub-par. Possessed is my favorite Crawford film. But Trouble in Paradise is my favorite Miriam Hopkins movie. Stanwyck’s pre-Code films are some of her best, in my opinion. And I adore Norma Shearer.

  5. Oh, and I should add that I was genuinely chuffed to see Bennett and especially Twelvetrees there. The latter is far too often forgotten, I think.

  6. I think it was wise of you to list them in alphabetical order.

  7. I adore Joan Blondell, Una Merkel, Norma Shearer, Jean Harlow, Barbara Stanwyck, Mary Astor, gah! there are so many good ones! I could go on and on.

  8. This is a great list. You can’t beat Joan Blondell, Helen Twelvetrees, or Carole Lombard in this genre.

  9. Great list! Some great talent here. Another of my pre-code faves is Helen Vinson.

  10. A fascinating list that gives me much to think about. However, why do you do this to yourself? Oh, the indecision would drive me mad. Nonetheless, I shall choose one actress and film. Miriam Hopkins in The Stranger’s Return. There. Whew!

    • Paddy, I have had The Stranger’s Return in my collection for years, and do you know I’ve never seen it? I really don’t know why — I love Miriam Hopkins (though Franchot Tone, not so much). You’ve made me want to bump it up on my must-see list!

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